(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), October 20, 2002:
1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to events of recent days regarding the evacuation of Gilad Farm and said that they show why we must all act responsibly. The Prime Minister made several points.
- Most serious of all, hands were raised against soldiers and members of the security forces. Nothing justifies raising a hand against IDF soldiers and security force personnel. Regrettable remarks were also made against soldiers and policemen. This behavior came from marginal elements who diverge on the broad public agreement that currently exists regarding settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Whoever comports himself thus is a lawbreaker and will be dealt with according to the fullest extent of the law.
- Regarding the Sabbath, there was no justification for the desecration of the Sabbath in this case. Activity on the Sabbath is legitimate and accepted only when justified by operational needs. In this instance, there was no need to act on the Sabbath and I view this as very grave. I am directing the Defense Minister to see that this does not change.
- Regarding ministers’ remarks, I have been informed of the sharp remarks that Cabinet ministers have made regarding one another in the media. In general, public discourse must take place in a spirit of moderation, tolerance and responsibility, without coming to verbal blows. Ministers must set a personal example vis-a-vis caution and responsibility in their public remarks. When ministers talk about each other, it is also a matter of norms of governance. The Minister of National Infrastructures did well to take back his statements. I am cautioning ministers to refrain from such remarks in the future.
- We must not engage in internal wars; we have enough enemies. Everyone here has the responsibility of maintaining the unity that is a national interest at this time and not to hone political rivalries for extraneous reasons. The public will not forgive those who harm unity at this time. For the sake of unity, everyone must compromise and act prudently.
2. Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on joint security matters. While discussing both Israel’s success in thwarting attacks in the last few days and the events in Rafiah in which Palestinians civilians were killed, the Defense Minister noted that he intends to increase humanitarian efforts towards the Palestinian population. The Defense Minister said that approximately 20 illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria have been evacuated in the last week. He pointed out that:
- The decision to evacuate certain outposts was taken after thorough staff work and on the basis of legal and security criteria.
- The outposts selected for evacuation were illegal.
Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer condemned attempts to stop IDF soldiers from completing their tasks by using violence against them. The Defense Minister expressed his deep regret at the Sabbath desecration, which occurred yesterday during the Gilad Farm evacuation. He added that he neither knew about, nor approved of, such an order, and instructed the IDF to investigate yesterday’s actions and take steps to ensure it does not happen in the future.